A Catholic church nearby was also targeted with graffiti early Saturday
By Miriam Raftery
September 27, 2020 (El Cajon) – Yesterday, St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Diocese in El Cajon posted this message, along with disturbing video: “This morning our beloved Cathedral was defaced with pentagrams, upside down crosses, white power, swastikas, BLM, etc. It reminds us to pray for my brethren in Iraq that are facing persecution. Pray for the criminals who did this.”
The odd combination of hate symbols fueled speculation over who was responsible. Some community members theorized that a group might have sought to discredit another group, since it seemed unlikely that a support of Black Lives Matter or Joe Biden would spray paint racist symbols such as swastikas and the words “white power,” nor would a neo-Nazi or white supremacist want to promote BLM or Biden. The pentagram, a symbol associated with satanic cults, is not affiliated with either either the far right nor leftist groups named.
Elsewhere in the U.S. there have been instances of hate groups spraying graffiti intended to discredit groups with alternative views in an apparent effort to incite racial or religious divisiveness.
Many church members and community members voiced concerns over hate symbols desecrating the church serving Chaldean Christians, many of whom fled religious persecution in Iraq.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Sheriff's deputies were also alerted to similar graffiti on Our Mother of Perpetual Help Syriac Catholic Church, on Mollison Avenue in unincorporated El Cajon. The Syriac Catholic church also has its roots in the Middle East, based in Syria.
Surveillance video from St. Peter has reportedly been turned over to authorities to investigate what appears to be a hate crime.
View video and call the San Diego Sheriff if you recognize these people: https://www.facebook.com/dany.shaba/videos/4867973873214558/
Mark Arabo posted surveillance video that he said was originally uploaded by Peter Mansour, the keyboard player at the Chaldean church, showing at least three people vandalizing the church with graffiti. They were dressed in black and wearing masks and hoodies; at least one had his upper face showing and appeared to be white.
Offers poured in to help clean up the graffiti from a diverse group of individuals and organizations including Democratic Congressional candidate Ammar Campa Najjar and an organizer of the conservative-leaning Defend East County. A post on the church’s Facebook page, however, indicated that church members were already pitching in to eliminate the graffiti and messages of hate.
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, who is running for Supervisor in district 2 which includes East County, issued this statement. "The vandalism of St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church & Our Mother of Perpetual Help Syriac Catholic Church were deeply offensive acts of religious bigotry. The clergy & parishioners should know that our community stands with them in the face of this hateful action."
While some voiced outrage, others offered cautionary notes and messages of resiliency.
Rend Auro Williams wrote, “I’m completely heartbroken. Praying for all our priests that God protects them and continues to give them strength and courage to face evil.”
Eddie Hanna observed, “Look at the clip again, there is white power and BLM writing on the wall and the floor,there is also Biden 2020 written on the wall, obviously it’s someone who is trying to instigate a problem between Chaldeans against each other ,please don’t fall for it.”
Jonathan Jaboro wrote, “Stay positive, we can always repaint. This type of behavior should never break our spirit and what we stand for.”